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2013 Draft Prep: Non-roster invitees to consider

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If you're going to use the crop of 2013 non-roster invitees to just tell friends that there's a second Jesus Montero, or tweet out that there's a player in the Royals organization whose birth name is Sugar Ray Marimon, then there's probably no place for you in a deep Fantasy league. You don't even deserve a kind-of deep league.

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Non-roster invitees are a thing of beauty -- a collection of veterans trying to find a home with another team, injury returnees, former speedsters looking for third chances, and a host of familiar names trying to make some sort of impact -- all coupled with some of the organization's most prized prospects. Last year, an astute NRI follower might have pegged Juan Pierre as a player to watch; he was vying for a role on the Phillies against Scott Podsednik and able to take advantage of a hole in the roster and turn it into what eventually became almost full-time at-bats.

This year, there are a handful of players who could make an impact, from Chone Figgins to Erik Bedard. There's no guarantee they make the team, or will even play a major role if they do, but if there's room for a little risk-taking in your Fantasy-playing life, here are some names you may want to consider on Draft Day 2013.

Two formerly successful high-strikeout starting pitchers

Erik Bedard (Astros) and Rich Harden (Twins): Bedard had a nightmarish 2012, finishing with a 5.01 ERA before being released by the Pirates in August. But he actually got off to a nice start -- a 2.65 ERA through five starts -- before back issues in May sent him on a downward spiral. Bedard is far from a young fireballer (he's 35 years old), but it's interesting how quickly people forget that he has a career 3.85 ERA with just about a strikeout per inning. And in the five seasons prior to 2012, Bedard had a 3.44 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with a strikeout per inning. The Astros have plenty of holes in the rotation, and Bedard can slot nicely at No. 5. Where you want to take him: At the end of an AL-only draft.

Harden, 31, has a career 3.76 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, with a K/9 over 9.0. This is even more impressive considering he put up a career-ERA-damaging 5.36 ERA in 174 2/3 innings over his past two injury-plagued seasons. Harden missed all of 2012 after undergoing rotator cuff surgery and manager Ron Gardenhire has made comments that suggest Harden isn't ready for the rotation just yet. But the Twins are hurting for back-end pitching, and if Harden can prove worthy, he could be a nice boost to a deep Fantasy team by midseason. Where you want to take him: In the final reserve round of AL-only leagues.

A former speedster looking for a shot at redemption

Chone Figgins (Marlins): From 2005 to 2010, Chone Figgins hit .285 and averaged 46 steals per year, topping out with 62 stolen bases in 2005. But after three ugly years in Seattle -- the last two of which he hit .185 -- Figgins was cut loose. Now 35 years old, Figgins has joined the Marlins, a team decimated by unpopular trades and full of roster holes, in hopes of making a comeback. Figgins can play third base, second base, or any of the outfield positions. He gets a fresh start on a team from which nobody is expecting much. He's just two years removed from stealing 42 bases. There's not a lot of hope for Figgins to make a widely-felt Fantasy impact in 2013, but there is a chance that he at least makes the team and plays enough to steal 20 bases, making Figgins an asset in NL-only Roto leagues. Where you want to take him: At the end of an NL-only draft.

A pair of outfielders who could crack their teams

Rick Ankiel (Astros) and Marlon Byrd (Mets): Ankiel, 33, was no longer needed in Washington last year after the arrival of Bryce Harper. While his .244 lifetime average isn't the prettiest of numbers, he does have a 25-home run season under his belt (in 2008) and could snag a starting outfield spot as a veteran presence on a very young team. Ankiel may benefit from the smaller home stadium with the Astros, and could return the value of a reserve bid in auction leagues (although I wouldn't pick him there unless he absolutely has a starting role). Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in AL-only leagues if he wins a starting spot and gets off to a hot start.

Byrd, meanwhile, took a 50-game PED hit last year while hitting a career-low .210 in 143 at-bats. While he put up miserable numbers with the Cubs over his first 13 games, a trade to the Red Sox seemed to give Byrd a boost -- he hit .270 over 100 at-bats before the suspension. The Mets have a handful of younger and more exciting outfielders, but Byrd could sneak his way into the mix, knocking down someone like Mike Baxter in the process. Even if he makes the team, though, Byrd will probably not do enough (think a .265 average and seven-ish home runs) to justify a spot on all but the deepest of NL-only teams. Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in NL-only leagues if he wins a starting spot.

A player I'd really like to see start at second for the Royals

Brandon Wood: If you paid any attention to the minor leagues or prospect rankings over the last eight years, the name Brandon Wood means something to you. He tore apart pitching on his path to the majors, at one point ascending to a lofty ranking as the No. 3 prospect in baseball. Wood hit 43 home runs and 53 doubles over two levels in 2005 at the age of 20. He followed that with seasons of 25, 23, 31, and 22 home runs. He's gotten to double-digit steals three times. He has a .281 career minor league average. And then, when he saw the majors for the first time in 2007 ... nothing. He hit .152 in that first season. Over 55 games in 2008, Wood hit .200. He also has seasons of .195, .146, and .216. But he did see somewhat erratic playing time, and the constant failures had to have messed with his head a little bit.

Wood is now 28, and he has a legitimate shot at making the Royals as a utility infielder. He has played shortstop, first, and third base so far this spring, but with Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella doing a lesser-of-two-evils battle at second, it didn't seem totally out of the question to think Wood could have worked his way into that battle. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Royals have much interest in crafting a spring training redemption story for a once-prospect. But with the way Chris Davis -- another former top prospect -- came into his own last year after being all but left for dead, there's at least a glimmer of hope that Wood can stick around as a utility player and work his way into some playing time, possibly delivering on the potential that has been long forgotten. Where you want to take him: Off waivers, but only if and when Ned Yost pulls that whole, "we're going to try Wood at second base," line when things go awry for his starter.

That random guy who could stumble into playing time

Kensuke Tanaka (Giants): San Francisco's middle infield is pretty much locked down, with Marco Scutaro at second and Brandon Crawford at shortstop, but Tanaka is a slick-fielding product of Japan's Pacific League, who gave up a contract that would have paid him around $3 million to come and essentially try out for the Giants. He doesn't have the most exciting stats, but if injury strikes -- or if Crawford stumbles and Scutaro is asked to play shortstop -- Tanaka can slide right in, hit about .275, and steal a handful of bases. Don't expect a lot of power here, but Tanaka could score a decent amount of runs and be a cheap source of steals. Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in NL-only leagues when the above scenario plays out.

A quick assortment of less-interesting players who still could make an impact

Kelvim Escobar (Brewers): The Brewers have enough holes in their pitching staff for Escobar to find a spot somewhere..

Kevin Slowey (Marlins): He'd be NL-only reserve material if he finds his way into the rotation. Slowey is a smart pitcher who could put up a decent line.

Kevin Kouzmanoff (Marlins): Kouzmanoff has hit 16 or more home runs three times in the majors, and the only thing really blocking his path to playing time is the oft-injured Placido Polanco.

Casey Kotchman (Marlins): With Logan Morrison out early, Kotchman could grab hold of that first base job and make an early impact.

Freddy Garcia (Padres): Garcia had interesting starter (5.93 ERA/1.48 WHIP) versus reliever (2.42 ERA/0.94 WHIP) splits last year, but his value will come as a starter. Don't expect much better than a 4.40 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, but as a starting rotation filler in a deep NL-only league, there may be something there to use.

Shelley Duncan (Rays): Given fewer than 235 at-bats in each of the last three seasons, Shelley Duncan still managed 11 home runs and at least 10 doubles per year in that span. Granted, his average has suffered, but Duncan has flexed some nice power. With the Rays employing a "moving parts" system, Duncan could actually see an at-bats increase, slotting in at first base, DH, and the corner outfield positions. With more at-bats and consistency, Duncan could see his average jump a little, as well.

Miguel Tejada (Royals): If Brandon Wood can't make the Royals, this would be a solid consolation prize.

Juan Rivera (Yankees):, 1B, New York Yankees : Fun fact! Juan Rivera has averaged 15 home runs per season over the last four years and has hit .263 in that span. He's also only 34 years old. And he has the inside track to start in left field for the Yankees, being one of the few right-handed power bats in the lineup. Rivera is AL-only fodder, and you can't wait on him to see if he'll produce -- with Curtis Granderson coming back, Rivera's going to be useful early, then probably settle into a role as sometimes-first baseman until Teixeira returns, eventually becoming a part-time DH in a platoon with Travis Hafner.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Red Sox's Farrell: David Ortiz to be held out of lineup for a few days
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) Red Sox DH David Ortiz will be held of the starting lineup for "a couple of days" to work on his swing, manager John Farrell told WEEI on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told MLB Network Radio that Ortiz would likely be held out of the lineup Thursday against the Rangers.

Ortiz, who hasn't started just five times in the first 47 games, has been struggling offensively for most of the season. He is mired in a 1-for-20 slump in his last five games and is batting just .171 in his last 18 games, dropping his average from .250 to .216.

Ortiz also has just six home runs and a .377 slugging percentage on the season.


Blue Jays option reliever Scott Copeland to Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:51 pm ET) The Blue Jays optioned reliever Scott Copeland to Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday. Copeland has totsed three scoreless innings of relief for Toronto, allowing two hits and two walks.

Orioles' Showalter to talk with Bud Norris before deciding next step
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:28 pm ET) Orioles starting pitcher Bud Norris (illness) showed improvement in his second rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Bowie after he allowed nine runs in 2 2/3 innings during his first start May 22. Norris allowed four runs on six hits, while striking out seven in five innings.

"The first three innings were really good. That was good to see," manager Buck Showalter said, per MASNsports.com. "I want to hear what Bud has to say before we decide what we're going to do next. I've got an idea, but I want to hear it from Bud first."

Norris went 1-4 with a 9.88 ERA in six starts before going on the disabled list. Showalter wouldn't speculate about Norris' role upon his return until speaking with him.

"We all know what he's capable of as a starting pitcher for us and we'd like to get him back to that point," Showalter said. "That's a priority. See where the season takes us."


White Sox farmhand Dan Black likely heading to South Korea
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:06 pm ET) First baseman/designated hitter Dan Black, who has been tearing it up at Triple-A Charlotte, will likely not be doing the same for the parent White Sox anytime soon. He is believed to be taking his talents to South Korea, per CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Black boasts a fine slash line of .324/.457/.568 with 24 RBI in 34 games with Charlotte. But the 27 year old has yet to play in a big-league game.


Cubs' Maddon: It's possible Kyle Schwarber is a September callup
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) All Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber has done since turning pro last season is hit the cover off the baseball in the minors. 

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft posted a .344/.428/.634/1.061 slash line and 18 home runs in 72 games last year, and he has continued to rake at Double-A Tennessee in 2015. He has a .307/.436/.584/1.020 slash line and 10 home runs in 42 games.

Schwarber's smooth transition to pro baseball has Cubs manager Joe Maddon thinking the catcher/outfielder could be ready to help the major-league club this season.

“He’s a very, very mature at-bat, and he’s doing better behind the plate, too, from what I understand," Maddon said Sunday. “You ask him, he’ll tell you he can. And that’s a big part of it, too. He’s really confident.

“He’s definitely, definitely got the hitting chip. Every time I look up at the scoreboard at home, it’s like: Schwarber went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI. Even if it’s 1 for 5, it’s like a game-winning RBI.”

With the way Schwarber is progressing, he will likely move on to Triple-A this season. However, a September callup might not be out of the question.

"It’s possible," Maddon said. "Anything’s possible."


Report: Red Sox promote RP Robbie Ross from Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:51 pm ET) The Red Sox have promoted left-hander Robbie Ross from Triple-A Pawtucket in a move corresponding to the placement of outfielder Daniel Nava on the disabled list, per WEEI.

Ross has spent most of the year with Boston, but has pitched just once for the Sox since a miserable appearance on May 8 that sent his ERA soaring from 3.86 to 6.17.


Report: Red Sox shelve struggling OF Daniel Nava
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:47 pm ET) Red Sox struggling outfielder Daniel Nava is heading to the disabled list with an undisclosed ailment, per WEEI, which is further reporting that veteran southpaw Robbie Ross will be promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.

Nava has received sporadic playing time recently and has been scuffling at the plate nearly all season. He has just four hits in his last 31 at-bats.


Report: Angels to promote OF Alfredo Marte from Triple-A
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:20 pm ET) The Angels are expected to call up outfielder Alfredo Marte from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. Marte was picked up off waivers from the Diamondbacks in October.

The 26-year-old had 18 hits in 106 at-bats for Arizona in 2014. This season in Triple-A, Marte was hitting a strong .343 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 32 RBI. 

He will likely be a part-time outfield/pinch-hit option for manager Mike Scioscia. He is expected to take the roster spot of Collin Cowgill, who is likely to go on the disabled list according to the Orange County Register


Pirates SP prospect Nick Kingham has Tommy John surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:32 pm ET) Pirates starting pitcher prospect Nick Kingham underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, the team announced Thursday. He will be sidelined 12-18 months.

Kingham was considered the Pirates' sixth-best prospect by MLB.com. He was 1-2 with a 4.31 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He is 28-29 with a 3.35 ERA in 103 career outings (99 starts).


Date set for Orioles P Brian Matusz suspension hearing
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:28 pm ET) Orioles reliever Brian Matusz will have the hearing on his pending suspension on June 3. Matusz was ejected from a game on Saturday due to a foreign substance being found on his arm. As consequence, he was given an eight-game suspension, which he has since appealed. 


 
 
 
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